For Former Military Lawyer Colby Vokey, the Defense Never Rests

Once an outspoken judge advocate, Dallas' Colby Vokey was chased from the Marines, but he's still defending troops -- and still speaking his mind.

The Danny Chen case made headlines all over the world. A New York Magazine profile painted Chen as a smart and reserved student who grew up in Chinatown with a desire to join the Army despite his parents' deep reservations. That story, and a slew of others, showed a soldier who endured taunting from his platoon until he could endure it no longer.

"Anytime anybody kills himself, it's a terrible thing. That's a tragedy," Vokey says. But the crux of his defense is that it's impossible to determine why someone took his own life. Too many variables enter the equation to squarely pin blame on another person, Vokey says.

His defense goes further than that, or will if the court allows. Vokey says Army investigators have learned an unpublicized and unsavory side of Chen, which Vokey revealed during the three-day hearing.

Vokey's work has taken him to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he posed with members of the local police force.
Courtesy of Colby Vokey
Vokey's work has taken him to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he posed with members of the local police force.
Vokey, a retired lieutenant colonel, says he discovered his interest in the law serving on a jury in Dallas.
Courtesy of Colby Vokey
Vokey, a retired lieutenant colonel, says he discovered his interest in the law serving on a jury in Dallas.

According to Vokey, Chen's personal computer contained anime cartoon comic strips of disturbing sexual scenarios, and pornographic photos of young-looking women. Only one such photo was permitted as evidence at the Article 32 hearing, Vokey says, and the investigating officer's report, provided to the Observer by Vokey, says the image was "of no relevance."

The defense objected to the exclusion of this evidence, and Vokey says the discrepancy has not been resolved. The Army refused to comment on the evidence.

Rick Meadow, a lawyer for the Chen family, was unaware of the evidence. Besides, he said, "it would be irrelevant to him getting beaten and hazed by these guys for six weeks."

Prosecutors declined to comment through a spokesman, but they obviously have a different story to tell. At a news conference, Chen's family recounted the details they had learned of their son's treatment. Hours before his death, they told The New York Times, Chen forgot to turn off the water heater. For that, they said, soldiers pulled him from bed, forced him to crawl on the ground while they peppered him with rocks, made fun of him with racial slurs and forced him to do pull-ups with a mouth full of water. They wouldn't let him spit it out. Meanwhile, New York Magazine reported, soldiers continued to pepper him with racist epithets — "gook," "chink" and "dragon lady" — and made him do sprints while lugging a sandbag.

But Vokey paints a less flattering portrait of Chen, one that he will relay during a trial if the court allows. Chen was never allowed on patrol because he was too forgetful and irresponsible to endure the combat scenarios they constantly encountered, Vokey says. When on guard duty, he would do things like forget — or just not care — to bring his helmet. Once, when they got a hot water heater that was a huge luxury and an absolute pain to install (the one his parents referenced at the news conference), Chen was the first to forget — or just not care — to turn off the pump, and it exploded a half-hour later.

"If it was me, I would have beaten the snot out of him," Vokey says. Recounting his trip, he went from a simmer to a controlled boil, noting that Chen habitually endangered other soldiers' lives. The case was personal, as most of his cases are. Vokey has yet to hear which charges will go to court martial.

"I do get emotional. I get angry. I feel love for Andrew," Vokey says. "I feel guilt that I work here back safely in Dallas." The Marines motto, Semper Fidelis, meaning "always faithful," is so ubiquitous its meaning tends to depreciate, but Vokey seems to have tweaked it a bit along the way, refreshing it to apply to his clients, if not the military. Vokey wears his Marines pin on his lapel every time he wears a suit, whether at a hearing in Afghanistan or showing up for a day of work in Dallas.

Shortly before he had to catch his plane home from Kandahar, Vokey says, he made his closing arguments. He offered a personal story of a law school friend who, saddled with pressures of school and home life, killed himself. No one could believe what happened and people wanted answers, but "a lot of times you just can't find out the reason why," Vokey recalls arguing.

After the hearing, Vokey packed his bags while Van Bockel and the two Army lawyers hung out in his room. While piling items in his suitcase, Vokey delineated work for each of them — compiling witness lists, reading statements, keeping an edge on the case and using every available resource. The lawyers eventually left, but his client stayed longer.

"Stay motivated, and keep your chin up," Vokey says he told him. He prepared Van Bockel for a "roller-coaster," expecting that based on previous decisions regarding his co-defendants, the Army will proceed with at least the negligent homicide charges, which would bond him to Vokey for the long haul, however long that proves to be.

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6 comments
jameswrangler472
jameswrangler472

Basically an attorney travels through various odds in their life especially if they simply related to defense background, here also we have been witnessed a number of odds issues charge against the defense attorney
Mr. Dallas' Colby Vokey who is preferred as one of the best ever military lawyer in the world. So it's have been an honor to go through a look on the life of this great attorney.


http://www.virginiasinjurylawyers.com/bio/damon-pendleton.cfm


Internet Attorney Los Angeles
Internet Attorney Los Angeles

Although most of these attorneys are good and knowledgeable, different attorneys have different abilities. Therefore, the lawyer you decided must have right abilities to deal with your case. This is because the things to be resolved in bankruptcy may confirm very hard to understand. For example, you could be interacting against a very sensible and innovative person.

fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

Vokey sounds like a dedicated, sincere and intelligent defense attorney who advocates aggressively for his clients. A good defense attorney has always been crucial in our adversarial system of justice and even more nowadays since there is money to be made in the private prison business.

Pacificpaddle
Pacificpaddle

I served with Colby Vokey in the USMC in Dallas, and abroad. He's a warrior, citizen, friend, and top notch lawyer. If you are in need of an advocate and counselor at law, you cannot do better than Colby Vokey. Semper Fi.

HS
HS

Vokey is to be commended for his dedication to his clients, and to "doing the right thing". The advantages of the UCMJ as opposed to civilian law are all too often lost due to undue command influence. Too bad his military career was stunted by not being selected for professional dev. courses like Command & General Staff College. More than attending such institutions, he should lecture at them.

 
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